Lyme Disease (cont.)

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How can Lyme disease be prevented? Is there a vaccine?

Avoiding known tick-infested areas obviously can prevent transmission of Lyme disease. Because Lyme disease is transmitted by ticks attaching to the body, it is important to use tick-bite avoidance techniques when visiting known tick-infested areas. Spraying insect repellant containing DEET onto exposed skin can help. Wearing long pants tucked into boots and long sleeves can protect the skin. Clothing, children, and pets should be examined for ticks. Ticks can be removed gently with tweezers and saved in a jar for later identification. Bathing the skin and scalp and washing clothing upon returning home might prevent the bite and transmission of the disease.

If a person is bitten by the classic deer tick (Ixodes) that has been attached for at least 36 hours, a single dose of doxycycline (200 mg) can be helpful for prevention of Lyme disease. This therapy is not recommended if the tick bite is acquired in an area where these ticks do not commonly (less than 20%) carry the bacterium (Borrelia) that causes Lyme disease. Also, doxycycline should not be used in pregnancy or in children under 8 years of age.

Vaccines were formerly on the market; however, as of Feb. 25, 2002, the manufacturer announced that the LYMErix Lyme disease vaccine would no longer be commercially available. Further studies of vaccines are needed. For now, ideal prevention focuses on the recommendations of the preceding paragraph.

For more information about Lyme disease, please visit the following site:

American Lyme Disease Foundation (http://www.aldf.com)
American Lyme Disease Foundation, Inc.
Mill Pond Offices
293 Route 100, Suite 204
Somers, New York 10589
800-876-LYME

Alternatively, you may contact the CDC:

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
404-332-4555

Medically reviewed by Robert Cox, MD; American Board of Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Infectious Disease

REFERENCES:

Klippel, John H., et al., eds. Primer on the Rheumatic Diseases. 13th ed. New York: Springer and Arthritis Foundation, 2008.

Koopman, William, et al., eds. Clinical Primer of Rheumatology. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2003.

Ruddy, Shaun, et al., eds. Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Co., 2000.


Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/3/2014

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